Region’s arts venues count the cost of cuts

MAJOR arts projects in the East are facing a difficult four years following another round of sobering Government spending cuts.

The arts sector has become the latest example of the treasury’s saving measures after being selected for real-terms cuts of �457million by 2015.

Suffolk’s biggest and most successful creative projects say they were braced for a reduction in funding but fear the potentially crippling consequence of impending council cutbacks.

Arts Council England has revealed plans to slash its budget by 29.6% as part of the current spending review.

In total, the Arts Council’s operating costs will be cut by almost 50%, from �22m to �12m, in 2015.

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Among those affected in the East, the New Wolsey Theatre, which benefited from �759, 729 of Arts Council funding this year, stands to lose out on �52, 421 in the 2011-2012 financial year.

DanceEast, with its main studio on Ipswich’s waterfront, received almost �600,000 in the last year but is now set to miss out on �41,000.

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Colchester Arts Centre’s funding is reduced by �8,000 while the town’s Mercury Theatre loses �57,000.

The cuts include reductions to the funding of creativity, culture and education, arts and business, and the Arts Council’s development funds.

Aldeburgh Music, received �1,469,601 from the Arts Council this year, but will have to make do with �101, 402 less in the next financial year.

Jonathan Reekie, its chief executive, said: “The cuts are not unexpected. Obviously nobody likes them but we’ve seen what is happening throughout the public sector and it’s no surprise.

“It will ultimately have an impact on our front line – on the music we offer and on the education work we do.

“This is only the first round of cuts – the second, in March or April, could contain much more dramatic news.

“We have to look at ways of cutting costs and boosting income, but fundraising is going to be difficult for us, especially as VAT increases. We don’t receive as much as others from the council, but what we do receive is also a very important aspect of our fundraising.”

The Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds this year was awarded �137,046 in funding, but will lose �9,456 from its budget thanks to the cuts.

Colin Blumenau, artistic director at the theatre, said: “Everybody expected cuts. But this is only part of the picture. We won’t know for sure the level of cuts until we’re made aware what is happening in terms of local authority cuts.

“I think we have to be prepared for any eventuality. Though the likelihood of their being no cuts from the local authority is zero, we feel the need to be prepared for everything to be cut.

“The spending review laid out 27% cuts to local authority spending. We are not a statutory service, so you can draw from that what you will. But we have several contingency plans in place.”

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